5 Controversial Criminal Laws You Should Know
The key to any criminal justice system's legitimacy is a respect for its laws. Citizens tend to abide by laws, statutes, and regulations they believe are just and fair, less so when it comes to ones they disagree with. And while it's easy to say everyone should follow all the laws all the time, that doesn't stop the discussion, or efforts to change contested statutes.
Here are five controversial criminal laws and what you need to know about them, from our archives:
There are few topics more divisive right now than gun control, and the most recent battleground isn't whether you can own guns or even which guns you're allowed to own -- it's whether you can openly carry guns in public. While the thought of more guns on the street horrifies some, many courts and states have been siding with gun owners and easing open carry restrictions.
Not only was its implementation in New York City ruled unconstitutional, but statistics show it hasn't been an effective crime fighting tool. And while stop and frisk stops in the Big Apple have declined in recent years, the practice is still in use, and legal, nationwide.
What sounded at first like a good idea -- creating a criminal offense for merely associating with gang members -- became a civil rights quagmire as cities were forced to reckon with how they defined gang membership, how membership could be challenged, and lawsuits challenging injunction-related arrests.
Hate crime statutes were intended to enhance penalties for crimes that targeted someone based on immutable characteristics like age, race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability as a means of protecting minority groups. And most states already have enhancements for crimes against police, fire, and medical personnel.
Yes, rounding up a posse to ride out after an outlaw generally went the way of the Pony Express. But one sheriff stills encourages his posse to catch criminals, and you won't be surprised to find out who it is.
Whether you've been charged under one of these controversial criminal laws or a less contentious one, you'll want a good criminal defense attorney on your side.
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